Union Voices: Tactics and Tensions in UK Organizing
Simms, Melanie; Holgate, Jane; Heery, Edmund
[Excerpt] This book tells the story of what is, in our view, probably the most significant development in British trade unionism of recent years: the increasing focus on organizing activity. We do this by reflecting on the impact of the UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC) Organising Academy (OA), the participants in the training program, and the organizing campaigns that union organizers have run. We explicitly want to give voice to these union activists who have worked so hard to recruit and organize new union members. Much has already been written in the United Kingdom (often by us) about these developments but what is often lost in short articles or surveys are the stories that organizers have to tell. In an effort to build a base of knowledge from which to start to analyze changes, we have so far tended to focus on publishing the studies that demonstrate general trends and developments. This book seeks to do something slightly different. We draw on those previously published papers where necessary, but here we want to engage with the politics and tensions behind those trends; both on a macro and a micro level. We want to tell the stories of what organizing is "like" on the front line, what organizers do, and how they do it. The workplace struggles of workers and their unions are at the heart of these stories. But we also want to draw attention to the wider reasons why union organizing is important. As we will argue, one of the things that happened as ideas about organizing migrated from other countries— notably the United States and Australia—to the United Kingdom is that the political conceptualization of why unions are organizing has been underexamined. We want to understand and examine organizing as a political process, and we want to look at the politics within the union but also the wider purpose of organizing, which often varies from context to context.
The abstract, table of contents, and first twenty-five pages are published with permission from the Cornell University Press. For ordering information, please visit the Cornell University Press at http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/.
United Kingdom; trade unions; organizing; membership; labor movement